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“I” Statements

Posted by on February 15, 2013

Using “I” statements shares how you feel without attacking or blaming your mentee.

“I” statements keep communication open and allow the discussion to move to a problem-solving stage.

Here is an example of a “you” statement: “You could have at least called to let me know you couldn’t make it.”

Now consider the message when it is rephrased using an “I” statement: “I was upset when you didn’t show up yesterday. In the future, I’d really like it if you would call me to let me know when you need to cancel.”

I statements can help ease conflict with your mentee and facilitate constructive dialogue and problem-solving. They also help you identify your feelings and communicate them honestly.

Follow a simple process to change what you want to say into an “I” statement.

When you are hurt, upset, or angry, an “I” statement can help you talk things through without escalating the conflict. “I” statements generally involve three basic parts:

    1. Name your feeling
      “I feel ____ (name your feeling)
      Say how you feel, using a feeling word: “I feel disappointed.”
    2. Describe the action that precipitated your feelings
      “ . . . when you ____ (describe the action)
      Tell what the other person did or said that caused you to feel that way: “I feel disappointed when you cancel our plans at the last minute.”
    3. Describe the impact of the action on you
      “ . . . because ________ (describe the impact the action has on you).”
      Explain why you feel the way you do about what happened: “I feel disappointed when you cancel our plans at the last minute because I was looking forward to seeing you, and it’s too late to plan something else to do.”


Learning how to use “I” statements takes practice. Write down a few “you” statements and practice turning them into “I” statements. Try using “I” statements during your conversations with others.

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